NOTICE: The views expressed in The Vermilion’s opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect those of The Vermilion staff or of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
With the conference realignment of Power 5 schools, many wonder what Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns will do. The real question is where should they go. Without a doubt, the Sun Belt conference has been a great thing for Louisiana. With that said, room for growth is always a necessity. The West division of the Sun Belt currently poses no threat to Louisiana. It is in the East where the real competition lies. With teams such as Coastal Carolina (our only season loss during our historic season) and Appalachian State who has beat Louisiana in the Sun Belt championship twice, an invitation to a bigger conference with these three teams would be a great inclusion. With the hypothetical inclusion, increased competition leads to more viewership which results in more money for that conference. The only other Group of Five conference worth interest would be the American Athletic Conference.
One might ask why they should strive for another G5 conference when you could search for a Power 5 conference. Well the answer is simple, they are not there yet.
According to Louisiana Daily Advertiser writer, Tim Buckley, states within an interview, “they [Louisiana] want to be the best they can be” via 365 Sports. He continued by saying that the athletic director of Louisiana, Bryan Maggard, said they are not knocking on doors and making phone calls just because Texas and Oklahoma are going to the SEC.”
To put it simply, Cajun fans should not expect to switch conferences (especially to a Power 5 conference) after one excellent season. Along with that idea, the idea of switching to another G5 conference can be assumed will not happen because Louisiana wants to be the best they can be. With that loosely said, it is up to interpretation as to how they can be the best they can be and in what fashion that holds.
The switch to the American Athletic Conference could greatly benefit Louisiana. The AAC contains top contender teams not only for their conference, but for college football playoffs as well. The conference has the Cincinnati Bobcats, who ranked eight in the coaches preseason poll, SMU, Navy, Houston, along with others. While Cincinnati is the only team with a shot at the college playoffs in this conference, the other teams listed are big money draw schools. Adding Louisiana, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State would increase the competition for the AAC.
If Louisiana was to move to any Group of Five school, they should be the AAC due to the possibility of making it to the playoffs. This would allow Louisiana, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State to play each other, which are four very impressive teams which leads to playoff talk. It is hard to say which conference they should switch to because of all the realignment that is taking place (especially with the alliance between the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC). The only thing that is certain is that switching to a Power 5 school will have a serious impact on our schedule record and could take a couple seasons to get used to. Fans must be prepared to be at the bottom of the barrel in their conference if a switch were to occur.
Though a conference switch is not highly talked about, it would be a good thing for Louisiana. Louisiana and Coastal Carolina have outgrown their roots in the Sun Belt and it is time for a fresh start.
Story: Caleb Williams